Catholic schools serve a need in MarylandWe are deeply...


September 03, 1996

Catholic schools serve a need in Maryland

We are deeply concerned that Karl Pence, president of the Maryland State Teachers Association, regards the Roman Catholic Church as his "enemy" (The Sun, Aug. 25) His comment offends not only the state's Catholic population as a whole, but doubtless also the many hundreds of Catholics who teach in Maryland's public schools and the many thousands of Catholic parents who entrust their children to our public-school system.

Mr. Pence's comment reveals a significant misunderstanding of who is standing on the battle lines he seems insistent on drawing.

Were Mr. Pence to look his "enemy" squarely in the eye, he might be compelled to acknowledge the financial struggle that the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and guardians of more than 60,000 students must endure in order to exercise their appropriate and legitimate right to choose a Catholic school for their children.

It is those children, and not the religious or other private institutions serving them, who stand to benefit from what he apparently views as the church's "heretical proposals for parochial school aid and school vouchers."

Mr. Pence might also be forced to acknowledge the historic and continuing commitment of the Catholic Church to offering families a values-based, quality education for as little cost as possible. The efficiency necessary to keep the current average tuition at Catholic elementary schools lower than $2,400 -- far less than the Maryland public-school average per-pupil cost of $6,337 -- is well worth emulating.

If one considers the fact that Catholic schools save the state more than $265 million a year or more than $1 million a day in per-pupil costs, it seems a matter of simple economic justice to suggest that children attending Catholic and other nonpublic schools should have equal access to some of the same benefits enjoyed by children attending public schools.

Mary Ellen Russell


The writer coordinates the Maryland Federation of Catholic School Families.

Some people enjoy gambling

Gov. Parris Glendening seems to have enjoyed something our family can ill afford -- "a wonderful two-week family vacation."

My husband works seven days a week as a horse trainer. Between setting money aside for a college education for our children, taxes (both corporate and personal), workman's compensation, payroll, board on a mare, weanling and yearling, vet, feed, tack bills, mortgage and an astronomical health insurance bill because we are self-employed, we have little excess for what the governor and his family are able to enjoy.

The definition of prig is "one regarded as overprecise, affectedly arrogant, smug or narrow-minded." I do not see the correlation between slot machines or casino gambling and the governor dragging in family values, hard work and good education. I interpreted that statement as such: People who participate in the above activities lack family values, a good work ethic and also possess an inferior education. I wondered how many voters were offended by this stance.

I will admit, I have no interest in spending my time or money in a casino. I much prefer local museums or galleries. I am truly uncomfortable criticizing how other people choose to spend their leisure time. I am even more uncomfortable having the head of the state lecture on morals.

There appears to be a fear of giving Joe De Francis something he wants, but doesn't deserve, if slots are permitted. Owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms, farms, uneducated as well as educated people, will benefit from increased purses. This is not a one-man industry.

Also, not everyone approaches gambling of any sort as a means for a quick buck or lucky bet. Maybe they consider it just plain fun, something a priggish type of person has a difficult time understanding.

Regina H. Delp

Ellicott City

Developer's interest in school crowding

In his July 31 letter, Stewart J. Greenebaum of the Baltimore County School Facilities Task Force asserts that school overcrowding cannot be attributed to new home construction.

Mr. Greenebaum has a vested financial interest in advancing this rather questionable doctrine.

Mr. Greenebaum is an owner of the Barkley Woods development, which is erecting 200 houses in the area of the Rockdale Civic and Improvement Association.

Last year at this time the nearby Hebbville School was suffering an enrollment of 140 percent of capacity of the three-decades-old facility.

The 200 families will face the double burden of mortgage payments and private school tuitions as a reward for yielding to Mr. Greenebaum's geographical choice and zero-pupil logic.

The Rockdale Civic and Improvement Association has petitioned the Baltimore County Council during the current quadrennial rezoning process to downzone the area so as not to overtax further the Hebbville School and the inadequate public works infrastructure.

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